Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Confession #7 - Forgiven but NOT Forgotten

As the saying goes, "Forgive and Forget"  That's what God does with our sin right?  The bible says, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." Isa 43:25  The Lord is forgiving of our sins as we are to be forgiving of others.  But does that mean that we should not remember it any longer? 

I can tell you that I have struggled with this.  Tossed and turned many nights over it.  Like everyone, I've had some difficult people in my life and difficult situations to forgive.  And I can say that God has worked forgiveness in my heart toward those who have wronged me, but the pain I have not forgotten.  My conclusion is, that the Lord wants me to remember.  The memory of pain reminds me to forgive.  For example when a parent instructs their child to stay away from a lit candle, but the child ignores the instruction and touches the flame anyway. The pain reminds the child not to put their hand over a flame again.  I believe it's the same for us. 
I have learned many lessons about the importance of forgiveness.  One in particular was a situation with my former best friend.  After she had met the man of her dreams our friendship radically began to change.  In my opinion her suitor was manipulative, and mentally abusive.  I watched as he slowly began to isolate her from her family and friends.  As she turned to me for advice it seemed things only got worse.  Her personality changed and issues were constantly rising which were never properly dealt with nor forgiven.  Unfortunately, this went on for four years.  Over this time I allowed the unforgiveness to evolve into hurt feelings, which soon became anger and bitterness, then finally culminating into utter rage.  The rage tore our friendship to shreds and in the end I said the most horrible, the most hurtful things I could think of and she turned her back on me.  I take full responsibility in the matter.  It took some time but I came to realize that much of the problem was that I kept tripping over my pride until I finally landed in the muck and mire of rage.  A rage that systematically destroyed a 28 year friendship.  I wasn't entirely to blame; the four years of hurts along with unforgiveness had carved bleeding scars onto my heart. 

God has taught me to forgive my friend and her now husband.  It was a long process of submitting to God and seeking his word for help. However, the scars remain as a reminder of how unforgiveness destroyed our friendship.  She's not seen my daughter grow, we have not taken part of the milestones in each others lives or been a shoulder to lean on for a long time.  I've missed talking to her, lunching and shopping with her.  I miss spending holidays with her.  I've reached out to her several times and I've asked for forgiveness, but it has never been granted.   That pain is fresh in my mind everyday and it reminds me to guard my heart and not to allow unforgiveness to rise up into bitterness, anger, and rage. 
I do realize that sometimes we must purge certain people from our lives because God does not want us living in a life of continual pain at the hands of others, however, the disease of sinful unforgiveness is not the way of eliminating people from our lives. 
My prayer is that we can learn to forgive others before we inflict a pain on our hearts that lasts a lifetime.
"Dear Heavenly Father, teach us all today to forgive those who have hurt us. Let us not allow the root of bitterness, anger and rage to take hold of our hearts and cause more damage to our lives. In Jesus precious name, AMEN!"
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